The Dangers of Fake Real Estate Listings and Rental Scams

scams, DuPage County real estate attorneysWhen you are going through the process of a finding a new home, it understandable that you might feel overwhelmed and exhausted by all of the details. Whether you are looking to buy a new house or just to rent for right now, you have probably spent hours trying to find a place that meets your needs and those of your family.

Sadly, it is all too common in the internet age for unsuspecting individuals who have been worn out by their search to fall prey to online scammers. Even homes listed by qualified real estate agents are often involved in such scams.

Beware of Out-of-State Landlords

A successful real estate agent in the neighboring state of Missouri recently reported that she has just barely prevented at least two scams in six months involving properties for which she was contracted to sell. In one instance, she received a call from prospective renters who were ready to send a deposit to someone in Texas, despite the property being in the north part of Kansas City, Missouri. Apparently, an online scammer had used pictures from the agent’s sales listing and posted the property as a rental on Craigslist. In the post, the scammer purported that she was frustrated with her real estate agent, so she was trying to rent out the property on her own. Fortunately, the would-be renters go a hold of the agent before sending the money to the scammer.

The agent, along with the Better Business Bureau, advises renters to be very careful when landlords are from outside the area. Of course, there are many perfectly legitimate landlords who own properties in many states, but most generally have property managers or other representatives available near their properties. If you cannot meet with someone or see the property in person because the landlord is out of state or outside the country, this could be a serious red flag. Any respectable landlord will understand your caution and will take steps to prove his or her legitimacy.

Too Good to Be True

Real estate experts also recommend trusting any instincts that you may have about a potential deal being too good to be true. Internet real estate sites, including sites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, offer great deals, but if you come across a property that is offered well below market value, there is likely to be a reason. In some cases, the reason is that the listing is a scam.

When you are looking for a new place to live, there is no such thing as too many questions or too much verification. If you are uneasy about your interactions with the landlord, ask for references, and then call those references, especially if they are professional references. If the landlord can only give the names of friends or other tenants instead of contractors or business associates, you should probably continue your search elsewhere.

Work With a Wheaton Real Estate Attorney

The best way to protect yourself when buying or renting a home is to contact an experienced DuPage County real estate lawyer at Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC. We will help you analyze your situation and conduct a full review of the landlord, the property, and any proposed contracts. Call 630-665-2500 for a confidential consultation today.

 

Sources:

https://www.kmbc.com/article/college-engineering-students-give-stubbs-the-cat-a-new-set-of-legs/27647212

http://www.rrstar.com/business/20180610/consumers-need-to-be-on-guard-against-common-rental-scams